Nestled in near the hillside of the Higashiyama District in Kyoto, Maruyama Park is a stunning natural oasis of beauty and charm. It is home to hundreds of cherry blossom trees that bloom in a fragrant whirlwind of sweet aroma during the early part of April, and because of its beautiful landscape, Maruyama Park attracts visitors from all over the world. Encompassing over 86,000 meters, this park offers a restful retreat from the hustle and bustle of Kyoto.
Most visitors know that the most popular Kyoto market is Nishiki Market, but to find the best souvenirs from Japan, travelers should explore the other great markets, flea markets and second-hand shops in Kyoto as well. Foodies will adore a visit to Nishiki Market, which has been open for hundreds of years, and shoppers will love browsing for handmade goods, accessories and second-hand treasures in some of Kyoto‘s other market districts.
Kyoto Tower is the most striking feature of the Kyoto skyline. Reaching a height of 430 feet, the red and white structure rises far above the rest of the city and offers panoramic views from a 328-foot high observation deck. It is a very popular and easily accessible tourist landmark, located right next to Kyoto Station. The tower itself sits atop a nine-story building, known as Kyoto Tower Building, which consists of the Kyoto Tower Sando shopping mall, the Kyoto Tower Hotel, a spa, a tourist information center, and much more. It’s easy to spend several hours taking in the sights and exploring everything Kyoto Tower has to offer.
Once the capital of Japan, Kyoto retains its beauty and cultural significance, making it one of the top tourist destinations in the country. Places to visit in Kyoto include lovely gardens, feudal castles, temples, and machiya (traditional wooden houses). No matter where you roam in Kyoto, you’re bound to find great food, culture and people.
Ryoanji Temple is a beautiful temple complex in northwest Kyoto that also houses the most well-known Zen rock garden in the country. It belongs to the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai branch of Zen Buddhism. The entire complex is listed both as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. Ryoanji Temple is a must-visit landmark on your tour of the city, as it is steeped in history and remains an important cultural site to this day. It is easily accessible by train or by bus and surrounded by other important landmarks as well.
Kyoto Station is an imposing 15 stories of glass and steel, providing an almost futuristic counterpoint to the centuries-old structures that draw visitors from around the world to Kyoto. Each year, more than 50 million visitors come to the city, and the vast majority of them will pass through Kyoto Station at some point during their stay. Kyoto is also home to 1.5 million people, many of whom rely on the public transportation provided at Kyoto Station. This is all to say that Kyoto Station is a very busy place!
Affectionately known as the “duck river” by locals, Kamo River sets the stage for many of the outdoor recreational activities available in Kyoto. Kamo River is a destination that appeals to visitors all year long. The riverbank is framed in fragrant cherry blossom trees that brighten up the natural landscape during the spring, and come fall, the scenery glows with the orange, yellow, brown, and red hues of leaves on maples and other native trees. Kamo River is popular among those who would like to take a stroll and get some fresh air or go on a tranquil boating trip for the day. Along the route of Kamo River, visitors will find an assortment of tantalizing restaurants with outdoor patios, as well as shops and boutiques that showcase a wonderful assortment of green teas, souvenirs, and local crafts.
Whether you’re looking for delightful delicacies to tantalize your taste buds, a rich, multi-century history to discover, or a common cultural experience in which to immerse yourself, look no further than Nishiki Market in downtown Kyoto. Nicknamed “Kyoto’s Pantry” by locals, the 400-meter covered street is brimming with over 100 vendor stalls, some selling skewers of takeaway food, some with small spaces for a quick sit-down meal, and others with groceries from fresh fish to locally grown produce (oftentimes grown by the vendors themselves).
Southern Kyoto is filled with incredible religious tourist attractions, from historic temples to peaceful shrines. One shrine that belongs on every travel bucket list is Fushimi Inari Shrine, located at the base of the Inari mountain. Also known as Fushimi Inari Taisha, this incredibly beautiful attraction has over a thousand years of history and has even been seen in movies and on television. Join the millions of tourists who visit this religious landmark every year with this guide to the shrine and its thousand vermilion shrine gates.
Located on the western side of Kyoto is where visitors will find the quaint village community of Arashiyama. First inhabited by people during the Heian Period, its history dates back to the early 700s, and Arashiyama continues to welcome residents and tourists alike to this day. Arashiyama is situated along the banks of the Katsura River and is adorned with fragrant cherry blossom trees and lush bamboo forests. Arashiyama is considered to be the tucked-away region of Kyoto and offers a calming respite from the other heavily populated districts of the city. It is one of the most popular nature lover’s destinations, thanks to its famed monkey forest, bamboo grove, and river adventures. Arashiyama also is home to a variety of historic temples and shrines, boutique shops, fine eateries, and independently-owned tea houses. For those who are looking to explore the quieter side of Japan, keep Arashiyama on your radar!